From our friends at USA Basketball:
Behind a stifling defensive effort, as well as 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots from tournament MVP Breanna Stewart (Connecticut / North Syracuse, N.Y.), the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team (9-0) held France (7-2) to eight points in the second half en route to a 61-28 victory and the USA’s fifth-straight FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal on Sunday night in Klaipeda, Lithuania. The U.S. has claimed six of the last seven U19 gold medals and boasts a 54-4 record over that span, while owning an all-time 66-12 record in U19 play.
“I was just having fun this tournament,” said Stewart when asked about earning MVP honors. “I was really looking forward to it. Shots were falling, which is always really nice, but the gold is the most important thing.”
“She deserved it,” said rising University of Kentucky freshman Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.). “She led us throughout the whole tournament. When we needed her, she was there. She’s a good team player and a leader. She deserved it.”
In addition to Stewart, named to the 2013 All-FIBA U19 World Championship Team were Olivia Epoupa of France, Astou Ndour of Spain, Stephanie Talbot of Australia and Oregon State University’s Jamie Weisner of Canada. Both Ndour and Stewart were part of the five-member all-tournament team at the 2011 U19s.
Stewart’s 152 points lists as the all-time USA U19 scoring record, surpassing the 147 points scored by Maya Moore in 2007. She also has the highest 3-point percentage of any USA U19 team member in history after shooting a sizzling 58.3 percent (14-24 3ptFGs), eclipsing the 57.1 percent shot beyond the arc by Cappie Pondexter in 2001.
“I was thinking, not many people get this,” said USA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier after hearing the USA’s national anthem being played as the flags were raised. “I teared up a little bit. My voice cracked. I was singing as loud as I could. I’m awfully proud. It’s so much to share it with the others and the people that were on the journey with you. That’s really the joy of it all.”
France earned its first medal in FIBA U19 World Championship history.
In coming back from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat Spain (7-2) 73-68 in the bronze medal game, Australia (7-2) earned its first medal since 1997 and upped its medal totals in U19 play to one gold (1993), one silver (1997) and two bronze medals (1989, 2013).
The USA battled France to a 66-63 victory just four nights earlier, so both squads knew a tough fight loomed from the tip.
In all, the USA held France to an ice-cold 21.7 percent shooting from the field, including a frigid 8.3 percent (1-of-12 3pt FGs) from afar; outrebounded the French 48-37, scored 22 points off of 24 turnovers, and outcored France 18-2 on the fast break.
In the USA U19 record book, Jones dished out 29 assists and is tied with Ariel Massengale (2011) for the top spot in that category, Harper is No. 4 with 32 assists and Jefferson is No. 5 with 31. Coffey’s perfect 11-of-11 from the line takes the top spot among all-time USA U19 free throw percentage leaders, while Jones is No. 2 (.933) and Stewart is No. 5 (.897). Tuck now sits No. 9 among all-time USA U19 single-competition scoring leaders with 118 points; A’ja Wilson’s (Heathwood Hall H.S / Hopkins, S.C.) 71 rebounds lists at No. 3; while her 15 blocked shots ties with Stewart’s 15 from 2011 for the No. 3 spot.
“I think that’s news to me,” said Stewart when asked about her record-setting tournament. “Coach Meier said it after the game. But, it’s just points. You could score points and still lose the game. I’m just happy that we won the game.”
Assisting Meier and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2006 and now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year. USA women’s teams are now 66-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships. The U.S. has claimed six of the last seven
U19/Junior World Championship gold medals and boasts a 54-4 record over that span, to include the 9-0 gold medal run in Lithuania.
In today’s earlier games Canada (4-5) defeated Japan (3-6) 75-64 and finished in seventh place, while China (6-3) clipped Brazil (5-4) 68-65 to claim fifth place.